Speaking up for our language schools

Another knock to the local economy is forecast as English language schools in Bath are set to be hit by Brexit red tape which could impact their recovery from the pandemic.

In Parliament last week, Bath MP Wera Hobhouse asked the Government for a debate on the measures to support them.

The number of Europeans visiting Britain is expected to fall by half, in a year that businesses should be looking forward to the country reopening. Making matters worse, the Government recently refused to exempt children taking part in short organised educational trips from new passport and visa measures, due to come into effect on 1st October. 

The fall in numbers will have a knock-on effect on Bath’s local economy with tourist sites potentially taking a hit as well as local shops, cinemas and theatres. 

The sector is concerned as many European teenagers don’t have passports and were previously allowed to travel using identity cards permitted within the European Union. This comes as the sector looks ahead to rebuilding after missing two summers of bookings – usually the best time of year for bookings. 

In addition to this, there are concerns over staff shortages in future. Many teachers hired in the summer months are from Eastern European countries employed on short term contracts who will no longer be granted a visa under post-Brexit immigration restrictions. With an expected increase in demand in 2022, the industry needs to be able to meet the extra demand. 

Andrew McPhee, Principle of the ELAC school in Bath worries that Brexit will hamper the industry’s recovery: 

“It is really important for the UK Government to recognise the value of the English language teaching sector to the UK economy and nowhere more so than in a place like Bath. It is vital that we are able to get back to welcoming and teaching visitors as soon as possible and the sector is relying on having a good year next year. 

“The UK is the premier destination for English language learning and in order to retain this position we need to get back to business as normal without delay.”

Bath MP Wera Hobhouse affirmed the need to support English language schools in the UK: 

“We must realise the value of English language teaching schools and their contribution to local economies in the UK. The Government must provide them with the support they need. 

“These school trips provide a much needed revenue stream for Bath’s local economy as well as a culturally rich exchange that previous generations have enjoyed. By not supporting these schools we add to the isolation of the UK after Brexit and risk the collapse of an industry that is so important to our country both economically and culturally.”